How it happened
I was in Plus One when a family friend gave my photograph to Malayalam director Kamal who asked me to meet him the very next day. When I went, he put me through a test shoot. The film was Nammal; it had two heroines (Renuka Menon and I) and two heroes (Siddharth and Jishnu). On the first day of the shoot itself, I began to cry. This was mainly because they painted me with black makeup. Till then, I was under the impression that in cinema one would be shown as fair as possible and that I would look beautiful on screen. Director Kamal tried to convince me, saying when Revathi acted in her first film in Malayalam, she too looked dark. But she won numerous hearts with her makeup and acting. True to his word, when the film was released, it was a big hit and won various awards, particularly the new face award for me. In Tamil, my first film was Chithiram Pesuthadi.
How it felt
It was sudden fame I got following my first film, both in Malayalam and Tamil. Both were a success at the box office. In fact, everybody liked to talk to me about them. The next few films enhanced my popularity. After Chithiram Pesuthadi, it was Deepavali and Veyil — both were much talked about. I was happy to do good films and make a mark in the Tamil film industry. But the best is yet to come from me.
How life changed
Life has changed a lot. I am not able to go shopping unescorted in Kerala or in Tamil Nadu. I am not happy about it, as I have not yet achieved much. My aim is to get unforgettable roles and portray them to the satisfaction of the audience. I have got good offers in different languages and I am ready to do more challenging roles. I hope this year and the coming one will be good for me.S. R. ASHOK KUMAR